For many, navigating the minefield of multiple workplace systems can make the idea of working remotely feel impossible. But the truth is the mobile workforce is no longer in the future, it’s here, and those businesses that aren’t adapting risk being left behind by competitors that are offering agile services, and boosting their productivity by utilising the opportunities afforded by working in the cloud.
So, how do they do it? How do businesses consolidate the multiple systems needed to keep things moving? The first step is utilising modern collaboration tools. These tools allow people to work effectively as a team, whether they’re in the office or in another country. Moreover, these tools offer easy collaboration between clients, suppliers and partners.
Before you start looking at alternative solutions for your business, it’s worth checking whether you’re making the most of the cloud-based “software as a service” tools already at your disposal.
Get your head in the cloud
Productivity suites like Microsoft Teams – the hub for teamwork within Microsoft Office 365 – are the most common software as a service offering available today, but they’re also the most underutilised service, says Mike Fernando – general manager of Perth-based IT support provider TechBrain.
“Some businesses aren’t making the most of the tools already at their disposal,” says Fernando.
“These suites have a raft of great features designed to help small businesses take things to the next level, plus they’re designed to tightly integrate with a vast range of enterprise-grade apps and services to equip your business for growth.”
Building on collaboration features, “unified messaging” – being the integration of different communication tools – brings smartphones, IP telephony and computers together into a secure, single platform.
The addition of “presence” tools makes it easy for colleagues to see when you’re available, which cuts down on phone tag and other inefficiencies that can hamper a business.
It’s easy to build on this with video conferencing and other enhanced collaboration tools available, such as file sharing and virtual whiteboards to conduct productive virtual meetings regardless of location.
“All the major cloud-based platforms have one thing in common, the ability to deploy and scale rapidly,” Fernando says.
“As your business goes from strength to strength, cloud services are designed to make that journey with you. Along the way they let small businesses make the most of enterprise-level security.”
Building your business
Cloud-based technology has been the cornerstone of Perth-based building services consultancy Datum101’s success for the last four years, says director Alistair Horsfall.
“We started with file sharing and now we run all our projects on cloud platforms, allowing our team access to all the information they need wherever they may be,” Horsfall says.
Turning to the cloud has also reduced issues with software support by ensuring that all staff are working with the same version of key applications.
“With regular updates all these [collaboration] products are just getting more intuitive,” Horsfall says.
“They help support our operations, to provide the best possible service for our clients, and give us a great platform to grow the business.”
Five collaboration tools that will make working remotely a cinch
- Office 365 suite – These days it’s more than just Word, Excel and PowerPoint and worth investigating how it now enables collaboration and communication.
- Online storage – Offers secure file sharing with version control
- Corporate chat – Allows staff to communicate easily without cluttering inboxes
- Video conferencing – Underpins productive meetings and has virtual whiteboard capabilities
- Project management – Helps your team work efficiently and effectively
*Included in the Office 365 Business Essentials and Office 365 Business Premium subscription.
For small businesses, technology can make the difference in driving your company ahead, setting you apart from your competition. But the challenge is ‘how do you get there’? Microsoft can help make the benefits of modern technology a reality for your business